Friday, November 15, 2013
Ongoing Difficulties in Step-Parenting
Imagine for a moment entering a marriage with the love of your life and being so happy about your partner. THEN in the back of your mind every horror story you have heard about evil step-mothers.
My thought on that, "Hey, I know myself! I am not evil, I'm a very nice person. I won't have any problem because I am excited to be a step-parent."
Now, some of you might need to take a break for a minute and collect yourself from laughing yourself out of your seat. This was certainly me, and I am going to take a guess that for most women entering a relationship/marriage this thought is the same.
At the time I am writing this, I have been a part of my step-children's lives for nearly 10 years. As a percentage that equals out to being about 86%, 81%, and 69% of their lives that they have known me. And lets face it, the first few years of your life you don't remember anyway. Also, for anyone who has a problem of understanding numbers, as time goes on, that percentage will increase. So I have been a part of their lives for a long time.
Here is a pretty common equation with children whose parents are not together:
1. Mom has the kids most of the time, and becomes lax on rules and guidelines because they are a 'single' parent now and they want the kids to like them and side with them more.
2. Dad doesn't have the kids as frequently and wants to pack in as much time with the kids as possible. This often includes fun activities because their are holidays or seasonal things that happen year round and only so many times to experience them with the kids. This often leaves dad with less down time with children to instill good habits and manners.
3. Step-mom (I can't speak on behalf of Step-Fathers) goes along with the fun seasonal activities and spends time with the children when they are on the father's time. The step-mother (who is a woman and naturally has mothering instincts) picks up on some things that will help the child/children to grow and mature in to respectful well mannered young adults.
Herein lies the problem. I suppose this is a message to mothers who have children with a step-mother so just bare with me here. Step-mothers LOVE their step-children. We seriously love them as much as possible and this is great because they aren't biologically ours and we don't have to love them, we just do. So, if we see a small (or occasionally large) problem that could be corrected simply by mentioning it or working on it over several discussions we are doing this to better the child.
Only when someone starts turning the blame (i.e. a step-parent saying to the children "your mother should have told/taught/noticed) does it become a problem. Rightfully so, a mother can become defensive and threatened. When two parents are together there are no other onlookers with opinions about raising your children (I won't even touch on in-laws and parenting!).
So this is a vulnerable spot for mothers and step-mothers alone and should be treated with care.